How is it Unreasonable?

I know I may come off (especially to my future self) as a petulant teenager in this post, not a 33 year-old, but I had a frustrating discussion with a family member over the weekend that I can vent a bit about in this venue.

I had invited this family member over for dinner on the weekend, as a birthday present (I had no idea what to get them, so offered dinner. They didn’t get “crap” that they didn’t need, and we got a quiet visit out of it, a win-win situation). This family member is on a countdown right now, they’re six weeks away from retiring. After dinner, we talked about the pending retirement and what the family member was going to do with all their time. The family member seemed super excited about all the free time they were going to have, and all the projects they would be able to get done that they never really had time for.

I had talked to this family member in the past about my financial plans, and explained my wife and I were about 5 months away from paying off the last part of our mortgage. We explained that we were around 10 years behind them with our retirement, as long as our investments work out at an average rate.

We answered the same questions we normally do when we tell people our future plans (which is not very often, as it’s something we prefer to talk to each other about, rather than publicize). My family member’s main concern was the length of time between our retirement date and when the pension I’ve earned will start paying. We explained we just didn’t plan to spend that much money (and currently don’t spend that much money) – we are choosing free time over “stuff”.

I think the frustrating part of the conversation was that this “awkward” discussion came after the retiree was contemplating installing a $40,000 wood shop onto their already enormous shed. There were just significantly different ways of thinking – I would prefer to have $1,000 in tools that I could use in a small wood shop or outside when the weather was nice, and invest the other $39,000 (If woodworking were something I was wanting to do seriously) rather than having a wood shop eating up a year or so of my potential retirement dollars.

My whole retirement plan comes down to spending efficiently – to get the most “bang” out of the money I do decide to spend, while maintaining a saving level that will hopefully allow me to reach my goal of retiring in 11 years. While I understand the concern, I can’t see working an extra 20 years to spend more money. We would rather spend less money, and have more time. I just move the conversation on to more neutral ground.

Has your retirement plan been called unreasonable? How do you respond?

6 thoughts on “How is it Unreasonable?”

  1. Unless someone knows the details and assumptions, “unreasonable” can be just code for “I wouldn’t want to or couldn’t do it or can’t think of how to do it.” It should mean that you are overly optimistic or assumptions are incorrect.
    Is it unreasonable to work for 20 extra years past the time a person has their desired level of spending covered? I wouldn’t want to do it but it seems reasonable to me for some people who can’t fill their lives without work or are fearful of the market/future and need a huge buffer zone or want to leave bequests – or love their work.

  2. It can be a very personal decision. Some may prefer to work another 20 years in order to pay for some added luxuries. Others just don’t know what they would do with themselves if they didn’t have to work, so they don’t see any point in cutting back for early retirement. I am more in favour of your approach, of choosing free time over stuff. But in the end it’s a personal decision.

  3. In either case, you could be called ‘unreasonable’. It’s equally as unreasonable to want to give up time and end up working longer for stuff, as it is to want to save more money so that you don’t work as much for stuff.

    It kind of boils down to how much stuff (which equals enjoyment for others, including myself) you want and need, versus purchased time from your savings.

  4. New and innovative ways of thinking normally receive a backlash from the majority. They get called “crazy” and “unreasonable” but very often become the new rational trend years later. Going in a direction that is clearly against the herd (or ignoring it) is not usually a popular move. I remember when punk rockers got beaten up (and sometimes even killed) for having funky hair colours. It even happened to old Copernicus back in the day, when it was so “irrational” to believe that the earth revolved around the sun, his friends and colleagues gave him some pretty good smackdowns over it.

    Going against what most people do with their money is by broad social definition “unreasonable”, isn’t it? Likeminded will, however, find it very reasonable. …As I do. 🙂

  5. George Bernard Shaw on being unreasonable:
    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

  6. I very much agree with your views, Dave, but it seems like both you and the family member are falling into one thing I feel gives people endless grief:

    the logical model that assumes others should–and with significant convincing, will–agree with one’s own value system.

    Your family member’s criticisms aren’t issues for you, and the wood shop really isn’t a material issue for you either. If there are differences in preferences, note them, see if there’s anything in the views of others that are applicable to yours, but don’t stress about their views!

    Shooting for FIRE at 30 is going to throw me way out of the norm, and there’s already a kerfuffle in my family because a parent’s sister is planning to retire at 53. I simply plan to do my thing and not worry about the naysayers (or, in more modern terms “haters” =P).

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